With every passing day, the likelihood of avoiding a government shutdown decreases.
There was talk late Tuesday of a potential deal, but the overall equation hadn't changed as of this writing. The man who must sign off on any budget plan — President Donald Trump — had yet to budge in his zeal to secure $5 billion for a border wall. Democrats, meanwhile, said they would not approve money for the wall.
So, of course, Republicans are blaming Democrats, Democrats are blaming Trump and the national and Beltway media are blaming everyone while getting plenty of fodder for their talking heads to vociferously chime on about.
It's not actually a bad distraction for the White House. Trump would be able to claim he shut down the government because he is committed to getting funding for a border wall, and Republicans can claim they were astute in not adding to the record deficits by refusing to go along with a plan that really is no plan at all, as the numbers just don't add up.
The White House, meanwhile, has a way to distract the media and American people from the mounting evidence of a Russian influence operation during the 2016 election.
But what matters now is the potential for a government shutdown. Some lawmakers are looking to pass a continuing resolution to keep the government funding at the same levels as they have been — essentially kicking the can down that road. Some of the talk out of Washington late Tuesday was about keeping all government funding the same except border security, but those talks hadn't yielded any immediate, substantive results.
We already have endured two shutdowns this year — in January (a few days long) and February (a few hours) — and we survived. The parts of government that need to run still run, and the parts that waste our tax dollars shut down.
Past government shutdowns reportedly have been costly — anywhere from millions of dollars to billions of dollars shaved off GDP, depending on your source — but that's in theoretical dollars (i.e., projections of capital that are not realized).
The military is funded and operating, but the rub is that the federal workers — and some lawmakers, too — have had to put their holiday plans on hold since they don't know whether they will be working after Friday. As far as we know, there have been no instructions given to heads of federal agencies regarding who is needed and who is not if a shutdown does occur.
So the federal workers, lawmakers and others await further instructions and the cable-news talking heads continue to speculate on the outcome.
FEMA, by the way, is under the Department of Homeland Security, which has its funding in place already, so they will have no excuse for not responding to storm-ravaged regions like ours. But that's another editorial.
REPRINTED FROM THE PANAMA CITY NEWS HERALD